The 6-2 Michigan Wolverines head to College Park this weekend to take on the 3-5 Maryland Terrapins. The Terps have a new head coach and new schemes on both sides of the ball, therefore a little insight into the program from those who cover it on a daily basis could be helpful. To get some intel into the program we spoke with editors Lila Bromberg, Cody Wilcox and Sean Montiel from SB Nation’s Testudo Times, who discussed and answered questions together.
Behind Enemy Lines Q&A
Q: Maryland started out the season 2-0 and absolutely crushed currently ranked No. 21 Syracuse, but have now lost 5 of their last 6 games. This is head coach Mike Locksley’s first year on the job, what are your thoughts about him and Maryland’s season so far?
This is definitely not a good season for Maryland so far, and the team isn’t likely to win another game this season. After the first two games, it looked like the Terps could earn bowl eligibility and fans seemed optimistic for the Mike Locksley coaching era. But now, only 26.1 Percent of fans are confident in the direction of the program, per our latest FanPulse poll.
That being said, the players seem to like Locksley and seem much happier after everything that went down last season. This is definitely the first year of a rebuilding phase, though it remains to be seen whether that will actually eventually come to fruition.
Q Who are Maryland’s most talented players on offense and what type of scheme will they run?
On offense, the most talented players are the running backs: Anthony McFarland Jr., Javon Leake and Tayon Fleet-Davis. Sophomore wide receiver Jeshaun Jones would have made this list, but he tore his ACL at the start of fall camp.
As for the scheme, Maryland utilizes the run-pass option often, making it the main focal point of the system. Whether it’s Josh Jackson or Tyrrell Pigrome under center, the Terps will use the RPO extremely often. If Pigrome starts -- Maryland hasn’t yet chosen a starter, or at least hasn’t declared one publicly -- then expect some designed runs mixed in, as his best asset is his legs.
Q: Same question, but this time defense, what scheme do the Terps use and what players should we be looking out for?
Under old defensive coordinator Andy Buh, who now coaches at Rutgers, Maryland ran a nickel-base defense. New coordinator Jon Hoke brought in a 3-4 base defense, though the Terps pride themselves on being multiple. They can run nickel, 3-4, 4-3, and in terms of actual plays, they’re capable of both man and zone coverage.
If this question was posed seven weeks ago, then Keandre Jones and Shaq Smith would be players to look out for. But as Maryland has fallen, its two best pass rushers have all but disappeared. The only standout players so far this year have been senior safety Antoine Brooks Jr. (though he’s more of a box safety/hybrid linebacker) and sophomore linebacker Chance Campbell, who has really broken out over the last few weeks.
Q: What is the gameday environment like at a Terps game? What should Michigan fans expect if they decide to head to it?
Well, it isn’t great in all honesty. Maryland managed to have a sellout for the first time in several years earlier this season against Penn State, but crowds have been pretty slim since that 59-0 defeat and the subsequent 1-4 record. It is homecoming though, so there is a chance you see more of a crowd, but with the way the season is going, I expect there to be more Michigan fans there.
Q: What’s Maryland’s biggest weakness on offense and defense, if you were an opposing team what would your gameplan be to beat them?
The passing game is Maryland’s weakness on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Terps have thrown five interceptions in their past three games and it is still uncertain who will start at quarterback this week. On defense, Maryland’s secondary has suffered numerous injuries and has been consistently outworked by opponents. If I’m an opposing team, I’m putting all the pressure on the quarterback to force a bad throw and then spreading out receivers on offense to create mismatches to score.
Q: Any predictions for the game?
Cody: Michigan, 45-17
Sean: Michigan 58, Maryland 10
Lila: Michigan 52, Maryland 7